Tuesday 16 July 2013


You may prefer to lose the dipthong and spell it "estivation". Either way, its the only possible state for one who manages life better at a maximum of 24 degrees centigrade than she does at 30. For those of you over the Pond, that must be a favourite of about 72 fahrenheit as opposed to avoid-at-all-costs 85. There are difficult choices to be made. One could hunker down with some air-conditioning and let the rest of the world go by, the fee being a feeling of invisibility and non-existence, or one could live an as-if ordinary life out and about and risk a collapse from heat stroke. I have been trying the latter. However, being isolated or left out in the cold is parallel in thermal terms to the effect of overheating. One is either 100% overheated or 100% 'frozen'. I am further isoltated from my fellows because there is almost universal glee about the sunshine and the con-committant heatwave. Were I to dare verbally to notice, let alone complain about the heat I should be ostracised or even committed as an alien being. Believe me. I speak from experience. So picture Liz, crawling down the road, hogging the scarcely woman-sized width of the shade offered by the shops and, sometimes, even their canopies. Admittedly, those do provide a wider shadow but they are very short and soon walked passed. One positive factor is that I do have enough cool clothing, some of it never worn, having been purchased for the holiday which never  materialised last year.

My Enquiry Desk shift at the hospital works well on a number of levels. There is air-conditioning even in the wide hall where we are located. Not only that, there are draughts from the star-fish of passages with which we are surrounded. It's a great vantage point from which to observe how the natives deal with the extraordinary weather conditions.  The male doctors are shirt-sleeved, neatly rolled up - the sleeves, not the doctors. They wear ties for the most part and maintain an air of professional purpose.  The females wear  linen trousers or dresses, down to the knee and with something of a cover for the top of the arms. There is quite a challenge in identifying these illustrious beings. For reasons of hygiene they do not wear their name badges on a lanyard around their necks as we do. They pin them to belts or trouser pockets. Were one desperate to identify such a being, it would be necessary to peer at their nether regions. I hope you imagination is boggling. It is an act not to be contemplated lightly. Less identifiable are the many other passers-by. We have seen men with huge tummies and bandy legs in torn -off jeans or wide-legged shorts. We have seen ladies with bra straps peeping and some with clearly no bra. The coolest look, in all senses, must be the sari. They serve to point up what a disaster most of the rest of us make of dressing for the tropics.  The library is a different matter: no air-conditioning and a windowless basement. But there is a jolly fan which swings merrily about and serves as a hurricane for even the substantialish cards with which we work. Indeed, it is  a bonus to bend down and pick them up from the floor, giving the backs of our necks a turn at the cool air. There is something very reassuring, though, in the make-do-and-mend of the library with its old-time card indices a nd no air-conditioning: familiar to the 40 year old and, therefore,comfortable for my current self. But, by the end of the shift I am so confused as to the order of the alphabet that I have to write it out, letter by letter, put it in front of me and consult it for every Mc or Mac as I try to establish the sequence of its next relevant letter. If only the Wizard of Archive would keep his hands off it until next time. Nos da

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